* Illinois Environmental Council executive director Jen Walling wrote a piece for her members about Gov. JB Pritzker’s first year in office. While much of it was laudatory, some was clearly not. I’ve taken out the praise and posted some of the criticisms…
While I am appreciative for the improvements made by Gov. Pritzker, it is my responsibility to provide an honest assessment of our progress and the opportunities missed along the way. And while it is uncomfortable for me to admit, the truth is that those of us who care about protecting our environment are eager to see more action from the governor on his environmental commitments. I hope my comments are taken in the spirit they are meant: to provide transparency to the governor as a partner who shares our values and the people of Illinois who depend on us to advance policies that protect our communities and environment. […]
Unfortunately, 2019 fell short on energy issues despite the urgency of climate change. Illinois remains one of the only Democratically controlled state to not advance major clean energy legislation. The governor has yet to back the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a demonstration of leadership that would move the bill forward in the legislative process. Although he has announced that energy issues will be taken up in 2020, he has failed to name clean energy among his top priorities in recent interviews reflecting on his plans for this year. It is time for Gov. Pritzker to take action on climate change and leave dirty, corrupt energy companies in the past.
The governor missed an opportunity to stand up to President Trump by choosing not to adopt clean car standards before the repeal of the federal waiver. California, along with 13 other states have already adopted a LEV/ZEV standard, and Minnesota and New Mexico initiated the process in the wake of Trump’s actions. Illinois would have been one of the largest car markets to adopt these standards, meaning that more electric cars would be produced and sold. Gov. Pritzker’s IEPA has also failed to revise the Rauner Administration’s plan for the VW emissions scandal settlement. Without changes, our state will dedicate $18.6M – over 17% of the total – towards fossil fuel technology, the third highest of all states receiving the money.
In addition to reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned in Illinois, we must commit to keeping dirty fuel sources in the ground. Unfortunately, the Pritzker administration issued a permit on the dirty and dangerous Bull Dog Mine permit and is currently considering approving a permit to pump wastewater from Pond Creek Mine into the Big Muddy River. Instead of tying us to industry in decline that has a long history of polluting and then abandoning communities, Governor Pritzker should focus on building for the future.
That Bull Dog Mine permit languished for nearly a decade before being approved by the Pritzker administration.
Go read the rest if you want to see the praise.
* Dems swept the Midwest. Why hasn’t it helped clean energy?: “Energy certainly isn’t Gov. Pritzker’s priority,” said Howard Learner, the longtime head of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest environmental advocacy group.
*** UPDATE *** The Pond Creek Mine permit she wrote about has been approved by IDNR…
Williamson Energy last month was granted the first of two application approvals for its Pond Creek Mine pipeline, which, if also approved by the Illinois EPA, would dump millions of gallons of mine wastewater into the Big Muddy River.
On Dec. 5, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources rendered its final verdict on Williamson Energy’s application, approving the development of more than 70 acres to construct a pipeline from its Franklin County Pond Creek Mine to the Big Muddy River. The company says it needs to pump seep water from mine shafts to ensure the safety of miners, according to public documents. These documents also show that before being diluted in holding ponds, the water will contain high levels of chlorides and sulfates.